Panel beaters

Shift towards LCD adoption boosts market

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By  Published  October 31, 2006

The Middle East monitor market is without doubt one of the hottest sectors to be involved in right now as consumers rush to trade their heavyweight CRT screens for sleek LCD models at low prices.

While CRTs continue to account for a healthy chunk of a MEA monitor market expected to be worth more than six million units this year, the shift towards LCD screens is nothing short of explosive.

According to data from research firm DNA/Context, Asian vendor BenQ achieved the strongest year-on-year percentage growth in the Middle East during the first six months of the year.

Exact volumes have not been disclosed, making it difficult to ascertain just how much progress the vendor has made.

However, the fact that it has shipped 70% more LCD screens during the opening six months of 2006 than it did in the corresponding period last year is unlikely to have gone unnoticed by management at its headquarters in Taiwan.

The challenge for the company — and for all LCD producers selling into the region — is to maintain current levels of output without compromising margins.

BenQ’s Middle East operation claims that the revenue it earned from LCD screens grew 35% in 2005, but with price points now as low as US$150 the pressure on margins remains incredibly strong.

K.V. Narayanan, manager sales and marketing at rival Samsung’s digital IT division, said that falling ASPs characterise the Middle East landscape.

“Our markets are more oriented towards entry-level models and remain driven by price,” he said.

“This is something we need to change so that the focus is more on the technical and design aspects of the product.”

However, with PC penetration rates increasing throughout the region, the outlook for monitor vendors still looks bright.

“On the channel side we see increased demand from the retail and corporate segments, but SMB still dominates the growth for monitors in our region,” added Narayanan.

Meanwhile, the picture in the overall EMEA market — where the mature Western European countries wield a significant influence over regional growth rates — is very different, and the battle to achieve year-on-year unit growth remains as fervent as ever.

Second quarter figures from DNA/Context reveal that only four of the top-10 vendors managed to increase year-on-year LCD shipments for the three months between April and June 2006.

Samsung, Dell, BenQ and ViewSonic all emerged with a smile on their face despite overall second quarter volumes slipping 1.9% year-on-year throughout Europe, Middle East and Africa.

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